Bell Textron has restarted production of the UH-1Y VENOM to fulfil the 2020 US DoD contract for eight helicopters (and four AH-1Z VIPER) for the Czech government, the company announced on 21 July.
“Crestview continues to build […] the same high quality and reliability into the international VENOM helicopters that underpin the aircraft currently operated by the [USMC] around the world,” commented Paul Kohlmeier, SVP Strategy and Business Development for Crestview Aerospace, which recently completed manufacture of the first of eight UH-1Y cabins.
Bell delivered the final UH-1Y for the USMC Program of Record in April 2018, and has continued to produce and deliver the AH-1Z as part of the H-1 production contract for 349 H-1 aircraft (160 UH-1Y and 189 AH-1Z). The aircraft share 85% commonality of parts, which has enabled critical component supply chains to remain active during AH-1Z production for the USMC.
“Time, logistics, and man-hours are all strategic resources,” said Mike Deslatte, VP and H-1 Program Director at Bell. “Commonality helps ensure everything between the VIPER and VENOM, from manufacturing, maintenance, and upgrades, remains seamless, while simultaneously providing lower program and life cycle costs. It’s a real tactical advantage on multiple levels.”
The two helicopters share the same engines, integrated mission system and dynamic components, such as the four-bladed rotor system. Both are specifically designed and produced for expeditionary operations. Together, they provide a full spectrum of military operations, unlike any other helicopter duo. Bell anticipates USMC production through early 2022, followed by continued production for foreign military customers. Bell has two signed Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases in production, Bahrain and the Czech Republic.